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23 January 2020
Earning While Learning: Taygon Sass on Politics, Work Study And The Passion For Fashion

For Politics Masters student Taygon Sass, coming to the University of the Western Cape (UWC) was a no-brainer. Most of her family had some connection to the University - and for her it is close by and affordable, to boot. But after her father passed away, she decided she needed to become independent. Joining the UWC Work-Study Programme helped her achieve that.

The programme was designed to teach students administrative, communication, tutoring and other skills. In return, the students received remuneration. In terms of the contractual agreement, students would use a percentage of the remuneration to fund their studies.

“Since its inception, the Work-Study Programme has been based on the principle of work and study for full-time registered students, by and large,” explains UWC Work-Study Coordinator, Lucille Teegler. “The relationship has always been beneficial to both parties. Students get to build skills and learn about the working world - and earn money to fund their studies - and departments get willing and talented students lending their time and skills to assist as needed.”

As a student assistant at UWC’s Department for Institutional Advancement, Taygon’s duties included scheduling meetings, ordering stationery, answering phones, filing, writing stories and working on UWC’s On Campus and In Case You Missed It newsletters.

Her hard work paid off - not only did she develop useful skills, but she received the SDS Work-Study Student Achiever Award, recognising her admirable work ethic, efficiency, high level of organisation, and going the extra mile for the best results.

Here’s what Taygon has to say about her work-study experience.

Can you tell me a bit about your background? 

I’m originally from Elsies River (Cravenby, to be more exact), but I spent the majority of my time with my grandparents in Kuils River.

Why study Politics?

I enrolled in Political Studies because I was interested in the international relations part of things - mostly because I thought it would allow me to travel. But I’ve learned so much over the course of my studies - about how the world works, and how to conduct research to make sense of it.

So what got you involved with the UWC Work-Study Programme in the first place?

After my father passed away I actually just wanted to focus on my studies - but working helped me become independent, and also helped me deal with his death. My first encounter with the Work-Study programme was in 2016 when I worked as a volunteer for the Alumni Phonathon, helping to raise money for deserving students. I started working for the Operations Manager at Institutional Advancement as a student assistant, and I learned a lot. Eventually, I moved to the Media Office, where I learned even more.

What was it like working at Institutional Advancement?

Interesting. Every day was different, with different tasks popping up all the time. I was at first awfully scared of everyone, but it turns out I had amazing colleagues who always supported me, understood my circumstances, and helped me. I learned a lot from them.

What are your dreams? Where do you see yourself in ten years?

Well, I’ve discovered I have a great passion for fashion. I am currently in the process of opening up my own online boutique, which I’ve named after my dad - SASSME - and I love doing makeup. So ten years from now I will hopefully have my own boutique/salon/stylist business.

Any advice for would-be work-study students?

It’s about balance. “When you’re doing work-study, it can be easy to forget that your studies are just as important as - if not more important than - your work. Be open and honest with your lecturers and work supervisors about your deadlines and commitments - and maybe don’t cut too many classes for extra work hours and money.

What’s on your bucket list?

Traveling, skydiving, frontlining Fashion Week - the list goes on. There’s so much to see and do out there, and I want to get as much out of life as I can.